Preghiera di intercessione 

Preghiera di intercessione 

Padre Nostro 

Canto finale 



We are now on the doorstep of Holy Week and John�s Gospel places on our lips the request made by some Greeks who were among the crowd that had gathered in Jerusalem for Passover. They asked Philip and Andrew, �We wish to see Jesus.� This is a request that we especially need to make on our own during these last days of Lent. There is a spirituality of the days of the passion that consists above all in not losing sight of the Lord. It would be good if during this week our eyes could stop and read a page from the Gospel, perhaps from the passion, so that we might better understand the heart, the thoughts, the feelings, and the love of Jesus. It is a moment of grace for each one of us.

When Philip and Andrew told Jesus what the Greeks had asked them, he responded that his �hour� had come. The hour that had not yet �come� in Cana and that �was coming� during the encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob�s well, the �hour� for which Jesus had come to earth, had almost arrived. It is an hour totally different from what we are waiting for. It is not an hour of triumph, liberating strife, self-affirmation, or victory over others. For Jesus his �hour� is the hour of his passion and death. There never had been an hour of self-interest for him, even if on several occasions he had felt the temptation to flee from the approaching danger of capture and the disciples themselves had urged him to stay away from Jerusalem. The hour that had now arrived was not an easy one for Jesus. In fact it was so tragic that he cried out, �Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say? �Father save me from this hour?� No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name.�� And he decided to stay, and more, to enter Jerusalem, even if it would cost him his life. Jesus was well aware of it. He had talked about it on several occasions and scandalized his closest friends. He said it again in the form of a parable to all those present in the temple, �Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.� It was not enough for him to have come to earth; he wanted to give his life to the end, to the last drop of blood. But this is the fruit of his limitless love, not a desire for death. Jesus did not want to die.

In the Letter to the Hebrews we heard that, �In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.� And yet - and this is the great mystery of the Cross - obedience to the Gospel and love for humanity were more precious to Jesus than his very life. He did not come to earth to �remain just a single grain�, but to �bear much fruit.� Jesus explains the only way to bear fruit and to gather together those who are scattered, �Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.� These words seem incomprehensible, and in some ways they are. They sound totally foreign to common sense and so become semantically undecipherable. We all want protect our lives. We take care of ourselves and avoid hardship; no one �hates� his or her life like the Gospel passage seems to be suggesting. We only need to think about the care we give our bodies, which goes well beyond the attention necessary to stay in good health.

The Gospel speaks another language that might seem harsh, but if we truly look at it we realize it is actually quite realistic. The meaning of the two words �hate� and �love� is to be understood in the context of Jesus� own life, the way he acted and how he loved, how he worked for others, thought about them, and was concerned for them. All told, Jesus lived his life loving other men and women more than himself. His death on the cross represents the hour in which this love revealed itself most fully. Yes, the cross is the hour of salvation; we could even say that it is the climax of human history, the greatest love that a human being could and did express. Perhaps this is the hour the prophet Jeremiah was referring to when he foretold, �the days when the Lord will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. �(Jer 31:31) Just a few words, but they represent one of the spiritual apexes of the Old Testament: the ancient pact made on Sinai is surpassed by the �new covenant� that the Lord is establishing with his people. Jesus himself will echo this prophecy of Jeremiah when he calls the paschal cup the �the cup of the new covenant.�

This new covenant will not be written on stone tablets, but on the hearts of men and women. And first of all it is written on Jesus� heart: up on the cross, pierced by the spear, Jesus� heart pours out its blood, to the last drop. How can we stay distant and cool when faced with such love? How can we resist a passion so strong that it made a man spend his life to the point of dying on a cross? Truly Jesus is right to say, �When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.� (Jn 12:32) Over these days, we ask that this grace be given to each one of us and to all Christian communities. We ask that this grace be given to the entire world, so that by looking at the face of that crucified man all men and women may be moved and discover that love is stronger than any presumed human strength, of any violent power, and of any egocentrism. From that cross, from that pierced heart flows the fountain of salvation for the entire word.

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